Growth in the retail sales industry slowed down sharply last month as fears over Government spending cuts saw consumers focus on only essential purchases.
The British Retail Consortium said like-for-like sales, which strip out the impact of sales from new stores, rose by 0.5% in the month compared with a 1.2% rise in June.
Retail sales have suffered since the end of "World Cup boost", the BRC said, with TV sales slowing in particular.
Food sales growth picked up in July, but the BRC said this was largely because of a smaller gain a year ago.
Internet, mail-order and phone sales showed the weakest growth for almost a year.
Sales of non-food items were the worst affected with cautious shoppers shunning so-called big-ticket items and homewares.
Furniture and flooring sales has also tumbled year on year as consumers chose to put off large home improvement projects.
"After some months of stability within the retail sector, these data are a warning signal that things could be about to take a turn for the worse," said Neil Saunders at research group Verdict.
"Talk of public spending cuts is unsettling customers and they are concentrating on essentials," said Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC.
"It's clear the recovery continues to need support. The Bank of England must resist pressure to increase interest rates too soon."
Here at Greengates Builders Merchants we are very disappointed to hear home improvement projects are being put on hold and consumer growth has slowed down.